The Hostess Journal
February, 2011 · By Coryanne Ettiene
Between my household management book and vast collection of guest books, it should not surprise you that I also keep a hostess journal. As a child, I watched my grandmother use a variety of books to manager her home, and remember fondly watching her rule the roost from her kitchen table one page at a time. I learned from her the value of taking notes and how a well-managed home always has a stack of journals to tell the story of a happy home. The hostess journal is by far the most entertaining of them all, and a trusted friend that not only eases the anxiety of entertaining at home, but provides countless inspiration for your next party.
The hostess journal takes all the stress out of party-planning because everything you need for entertaining is written down as a reference for the next time you have people over. Once you begin keeping a hostess journal, you can forget about duplicating a meal, making poor seating arrangements, or sending a guest into anaphylactic shock. Ready made books are available for purchase, but I enjoy the freedom that emerges from creating my own by using a blank bound book and diving it into sections:
The dinner party section is where I record a specific event by date. Notes are made about the menu, special table settings, seating arrangements and who attended, how the meal went, memorable aspects of the night, wine served, and what I wore. Keeping up to date on this section prevents you from duplicating menu’s, guests and conversations, and will go a long way towards keeping your crown as the hostess with the mostess.
The guest preference section is where I record a brief biography of my guests by relationships, food preferences/aversions, and other quirky morsels of information that help me in planning the menu and the seating arrangements. For example, at a recent dinner party, I learned that a guest of mine has an aversion to carrots, and another prefers to sit at the end of the table. Naturally, the morning after the party, I made a note of both preferences. Additionally, (and this is important for single guests) I make a note of their date for the night, and what their current relationship status is. The same should be done for couples with small children by writing their birth year, name, and anything else I know about them.
The seasonal inspiration section does what it says on the tin. If I find a website, article or recipe of note that I think will add that something extra to my next party, I insert it in this section. Mind you this section is anything but pretty…it is a working collection of thoughts, inspirations, glued clippings and hand written scribble that make sense only to me. Regardless, I thumb through this section every time I am lacking the umph to put on my party shoes.